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GP Week : Issue 186
20 GPWEEK.com // 20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: When Rossi crossed the line at Assen for his first win in more than two years, it felt as though everyone had been holding their breath for exactly that long. The eruption of grandstand glee verged on the explosive. Mass euphoria, to match the grin on the rider’s own face. In the week since, the buzz has continued. Rossi is back. And as suddenly MotoGP is exciting again. That’s the theory. Personally I find it pretty interesting anyway, with or without Rossi. Of course I’m glad to see the ageing scamp prove that old can be gold, even if it had to be in the effective absence of Jorge Lorenzo. Hope to see more of the same. Rossi has forgotten nothing; his problem is that his younger rivals learn new tricks faster than him. There’s no question that Rossi’s fledgling return to the front, still just one race old, has injected a new dimension to the championship battle, though to be honest a gap of 51 points to Pedrosa is rather wide. The worrying thing is how much difference it made to MotoGP in general. An instant image-boost. Rossi back! Primed by an excitable media, suddenly ordinary people were interested in bike racing again. That’s star quality for you. And proof of just how much MotoGP and its commercial success is in thrall to one man. The blue-blazer brigade of the pre-Dorna days liked to cut riders down to size with the mantra: “No one rider is bigger than the sport.” Rossi rather proves the opposite. All fine and dandy, and what a come- back story it will make. Eat your heart out, Lazarus. It’s not the come-back that Dorna should be worrying about, however much it might ensure sell-out crowds and hungry TV channels for the rest of the season. It’s the go-away. Probably at the end of next year. So what then? We’ve observed before that Dani doesn’t have star quality, largely because he doesn’t want it; Lorenzo does want it – but the perfectionist in him makes him rather too remote. Marquez is the bright hope in waiting, and it has to be said that he’s made a pretty good start in the personality stakes, although maybe not yet as dazzling as his race results. His smile makes him look a lot like The Joker; and his comments often let a clear sense of ironic humour poke through. But at the moment his mischief is tempered by an understandable tendency to lapse into press-release speak in front of a room full of journalists. As his mastery of English improves (he’s still no more than 85 percent there) it will be interesting to see how far he is prepared to step out from behind this safety shield. Dorna had better hope his progress with the media catches up with his race performance. But nobody could ever really replace Rossi. Luckily, just for the moment, nobody has to. Enjoy it while you may. IN THRALL ANd IN CLOVER. AGAIN. OPINION OPINION MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor